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Experts say difficult to properly evaluate Cashless Debit Card trial sites because no proper baselines data has been collected

Experts at a hearing into the cashless debit card today have roundly slammed the Government for using their so-called trial site evaluations to justify the extension of the cashless debit card “trials”.

“The ORIMA reports have been thoroughly discredited by academics and researchers as well as the ANAO and were today described as “extremely misleading” but they are still being referred to by Government to justify the trial extensions”, Senator Rachel Siewert said.

 “Academics and researchers are now at a loss as to how one would even begin to undertake a proper evaluation because the approach has been so haphazard, particularly given that no proper baseline data was been collected at any of the trial sites.

“You can’t claim to have seen an improvement if you have nothing to measure it against. It’s really not credible to say there has been an improvements when the evidence isn’t there to show that.

 “One academic today said that it is an “embarrassment” that the Government still referred to the ORIMA reports and called for an investigation into why such poor quality evaluations can continue.

“Both academics and people in the trial site communities are cynical that this is still or has ever been a “trial”.

“For it to have been a trial it would have to be rigorously and independently evaluated with expert field researchers embedded in the community from the beginning doing thorough analysis. This has not occurred.

“This is not a trial but an experiment on vulnerable people.

“Imagine what community investment there could be for First Nations led organisations and culturally appropriate services that these regions are crying out for with the almost $35million that has been spent so far rolling out this card including almost $15million that has gone to the private company Indue.

“This card is a back to the ration days approach and evokes historical trauma in the contemporary.

“The opposition and crossbench must not accept this punitive, ideological and racist approach that paints all people on income support in the trial areas as being addicts, gamblers or “social problems”.

“We can stop the rollout of this card if the ALP and the cross bench vote against these extensions. I hope Mr Storer realises he was sold a pup when he supported the Hinkler rollout on the proviso of a proper evaluation and does not support this legislation."

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Lucy Cowcher-Guthrie: 0418 401 180

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